Wednesday, December 29, 2010

California Dreaming...On Such a Winter's Day

I have to tell you, if I haven't already done so, I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. This year, for a brief few weeks, I actually thought now that I'm not working and could actually enjoy preparing for Christmas, that maybe I'd beat it. Maybe this time, I wouldn't get those winter doldrums, the cabin fever that hits me every winter without fail. But I was wrong. It doesn't matter if I have to go out in the winter weather or not, whether I'm working or not, I still hate winter.

Yes, the blizzard was exciting, and fun, for a day or so. And it sure looks pretty. But I'm afraid to walk on the ice, I hate bundling up to go out, and now that I don't have to work, my tendency to hibernate in the winter is worse than ever. I don't want to leave my house for any reason whatsoever. But at the same time I hate being cooped up and held prisoner in the house.

I need to move somewhere that doesn't have winter; a place where I can go outside all year, and maybe, just maybe have to put on a light jacket or raincoat from time to time.

Yes, I'm talking about San Francisco, of course. Some of you already know that San Francisco is my favorite city, at least here in America. The climate isn't too hot and isn't too cold; the views are spectacular, and if I lived there, the constant walking up and down hills would probably get me in shape without any effort on my part, unlike my habits living in car-dependent suburban New Jersey. San Francisco has great restaurants, lots of things to do, and beautiful scenery. And if you get tired of the city (hard to imagine), the surrounding areas are equally wonderful to visit.

Since today is the middle of the week of lost time between Christmas and New Year's, my cabin fever has risen to new heights, and I decided to immerse myself in daydreaming, via

Did you know that the prices for houses and condos in San Francisco are lower than I have ever seen them? And believe me, moving to San Francisco has been DH's and my fantasy for over 20 years, so I've been watching real estate prices out there ever since ever came on line, whenever that was. Up until about 2 years ago, when all hell broke loose in the economy, there was not a single condo or house in the City of San Francisco that would be remotely affordable no matter how valuable our house in New Jersey might be. I saw prices of $500k and up for the tiniest studios. Well, that's not the case now! Prices are so low out there from what I see that we could actually buy something right now if we could sell our house immediately and move out there.

Unfortunately, what with DH's aging parents and my aunt still in the picture, that possibility is not going to happen in the near future. And certainly I don't want to hasten the time when aging relatives are no longer with us. So what is the solution to my winter daydreams? Any suggestions are welcome. Because with our luck, by the time we can sell our house, the prices in San Francisco will be back to the stratosphere.

In the meantime, enjoy a few pictures of affordable pieds-a-terre in the City by the Bay. It's the way I'm getting through my Seasonal Affective Disorder, for today anyway. Tomorrow I think I'll move on to Hawaii, where prices have also dropped dramatically!

Here's a condo at 240 Lombard Street, right near Telegraph Hill, for just under $350k. Here's one for $339k on McAllister Street, right near Alamo Square, where people take that famous picture that's on the postcards (see below).

And if we want to be near the ocean and Golden Gate Park, check out this one, a 2-bedroom condo for $343k.

Now, I know these prices may still sound high, especially if you live outside the metro NY area; but the 1-bedroom condo in that last building is only $209k, and there are plenty of others in the low $200s and even below, if you aren't looking for an ocean view or a short walk to Telegraph Hill.

For instance, this studio for $199k with views of the city, a swimming pool, community exercise room, and other amenities in Diamond Heights. Or, if you're willing to be a little farther from downtown, here's a one-family house for only $239,000.

Oh, I know, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The condos with the low prices probably have high monthly homeowner's fees, the single family house probably is in need of TLC, and so on. But the fact remains, suddenly San Francisco is at least in the realm of possibility. And that helps get me through my winter blues.

And, since this is how I spent my afternoon, here are the Mamas and Papas singing "California Dreaming."


Sherry Peyton said...

You know I relate! lol... I have SAD too and we get snowed it, which makes it even worse. I have a place in my mind I go to, usually either Hawaii or New Mexico...depending on whether I'm sane or are planning to move to NM within two years I hope. No more snow!

Life As I Know It Now said...

To help with the SAD maybe you should look into buying one of those sun lamps.

Gee, I live in the country and I can't imagine having so many people all around. Wow.

Mauigirl said...

Sherry, good for you, I'm glad you're going to move on to NM and get away from the snow!

Liberality, I love the country too; so if we do go to SF it will be 6 months of the year, while spending summers at our cabin in the Adirondacks, at least until we're too old to travel back and forth across the country! The other good thing is if you get sick of the city you can always go to the countryside outside of SF.

Jolly Roger said...

I lived on Hyde Street for a month back in 2000. I never set foot inside a car; I walked, or caught cable cars, to every place I needed to go.

I'd have stayed in a heartbeat, but the people I worked for went under.

Mauigirl said...

JR, that's what we do out there as well. Having a car is more of a nuisance than a pleasure in SF. So sorry you didn't get to stay there!

Kathi said...

Now what does Baxter think about the possibility of moving to San Francisco?

KGMom said...

Well, you and I agree on many things: liberal causes; dogs and cats, etc.
BUT here we part ways. I love winter--make that LOVE. I enjoy the cold weather; I look forward to snow (give me your blizzard. Maybe growing up in a southern hemisphere where Christmas was marked with hot weather has done that. Who knows.
But I don't begrudge you your California dreaming--dream on.

libhom said...

I hate walking on ice too.

Fran said...

Always a mixed bag. I live up in Oregon, where winters are mild (and housing is less expensive)... but in Western Oregon it is rainforest/coastal & we get rain-- lots of it. Having grown up in the midwest & done more than my share of shoveling, it's nice to have a forgiving climate, but some people w SAD suffer with it due to the rainy/gray months.
I hear the special full spectrum lighting lamps can really help. But also getting out can help too-- when the streets get cleared some, see about going to an art museum, or the library & get a bunch of books or doing something indoors & fun. Also libraries are chock full of music and movies too... so that might help break up the indoor doldrums.

herbals for depression might help too???

In any case.... I was swinging by to wish you a very happy New Year. Who knows? Maybe you will become my new neighbor to the south??

Carpe Diem. if you really want to be a snow bird..... you might want to go for it.
Or another "remedy".... book yourself on a cruise from Cape LIberty.... hope on a ship & sail down to sunny beach.
More spendy than a full spectrum light... but more of an adventure.
9 days w palm trees & sunny beaches might do you a world of good.
Rates drop big time after the holidays.
Being stuck in a blizzard might just inspire you to trade in your snow shovel for a swimsuit & beach towel.

D.K. Raed said...

Maui, if there is any way you can afford it, buy something there now, and move later. use it for vacations in the meantime.

I've always lived for the sun myself ... have to say about coastal calif, when we lived in san diego, at first we were only a couple miles from the ocean, but ended up moving 20-miles further inland cuz it was too cloudy and humid for me on the coast ... our carpets were constantly damp ... maybe that's why hardwood floors were invented.

tim said...

One of the place's I want to go is SF. Maybe to live..who knows.. Love the M and searching days..
Just wanted to stop by and wish you and yours a very Happy New Year.
Tim and Melissa

LeftLeaningLady said...

We are a little behind the times down here, but the winters contain NO blizzards and a 2BR/3BA Condo is available (several actually) for less than $200K.

Of course the right is firmly in control of this area, but HEY, the rapture is scheduled in just a few short months!

Unknown said...

I hope that 2011 is treating you well, my friend! Alex says, "Meow."

Mauigirl said...

Thanks all for your comments and new year's wishes! Still haven't bought our dream condo in SF but am getting alerts from realtors so will know it when I see it! As for my SAD, it's about to get worse...more snow predicted for tomorrow night - could be a foot!

Christopher said...

The City is very, very steep.

Most people from the Bay Area -- I am one, live in the surrounding suburbs. Here's a basic 3/1 in Concord. A suburb of 120,000 people and on the BART rail line into San Francisco.

We have several gay male friends who live in Concord. The summers are hot and dry -- reaching 90 and many people have pools. The winter is brief (unlike the miserable Northeast) and rainy with highs in the 50's.

Check it out. There are many suburbs that are affordable in the Bay Area like Concord, Pleasant Hill, Pittsburgh, Vallejo, and San Leandro.

This house in Concord if $175,000 and it's an easy 20 miles to the City.

Mauigirl said...

Christopher, that's good advice. I know Concord a bit as an old high school friend lives there and we visited them one time - was easy to get there via the BART. We may need to look in the suburbs as the "cheap" ones I found and posted above all had caveats once I called up. One was only for people under a certain income and buying for the first time, and over 55 (we qualified for the last thing but not the others!).

So you guys are back out on the West Coast now? I missed reading blogs as much when my mom was sick and now you're not on FB anymore I guess? So I am not caught up on your life as much as before! I am envious...we are getting as much snow as Rochester usually does this year!

Christopher said...

Hi Mauigirl,

We're leaving, on a Midnight Train to Georgia......, no, just kidding.

We're leaving for Palm Springs on February 15th! Woo hoo! No more 5 month winters for us. In fact, no more winters ever again for us.

The markets are really depressed now and you can buy a perfectly decent 2/2 for $129,000 to $189,000 in Palm Desert, La Quinta, or even Palm Springs.

They have a great selection of 55+ homes in Del Webb Palm Desert under $200,000 or over the hill in Banning for under $150,000.

Hot, dry springs and summers and no winter. 330 days a year of sunshine and a 3 hour drive to Los Angeles to go to Dodger Stadium, or LAX.

Ontario International is 45 minute west and a Southwest hub with hour flights to San Francisco or 30 minute flights to Las Vegas.

Like Jim says, "Now is the time to walk through the door before the prices go up again." He's so correct. In five years, non of us will be able to afford California and the door will be closed.

Are you guys really going to come west? That would be so cool! I can show you or recommend just about everything you want or need!

Email me and we'll chat.


Mauigirl said...

Great, so happy for you guys. You're right, now is the time to do it, as the prices will only go up to the stratosphere again. We won't be able to move out there for a few years yet (aging relatives still live here in NJ) but would love to at least get a hold of something before the prices go up, even if we could rent it out for awhile. Will send you an e-mail later on!

DRP said...